"Recognize the Urgency" — Despite Markkanen's Monster Fourth Quarter, Utah Falls in Heartbreaking Fashion

Ryan Kostecka
Digital Content Writer

Returning home for the first time in two weeks and in front of a sellout crowd on national television, the Jazz and 76ers gave fans everywhere a treat on Thursday night. 

In a game that came down to the wire, with the teams exchanging haymakers over the entire fourth quarter, the simplest of moments decided things in the end. Despite having chances to take the lead in the final minute, Utah couldn't land one more blow and fell 127-124 to Philadelphia. 

“The end of the game, there were some really disappointing moments from an execution standpoint,” head coach Will Hardy said. “We failed to recognize the urgency that’s needed in those moments. … It’s hard because sometimes a lot of effort physically, emotionally gets poured into a game like that, and we just end up hurting ourselves by not doing a few simple things.”

Here are five things to know following the loss.

1.) Six in Double Figures
After struggling in the final two games of the road trip, the Jazz got a boost when returning to the comfortable confines of the Delta Center. 

Six players finished in double-figures for Utah, led by Lauri Markkanen's double-double of 28 points and 10 rebounds. He finished 10-of-15 from the field, and after starting 1-5 from three, Markkanen knocked down his final four. He also added three assists. 

Collin Sexton finished with 22 points and six assists on an efficient shooting night, while John Collins added 15 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks to pace the starters.

Utah's bench was again dominant, outscoring the 76ers 49-20. Jordan Clarkson finished with 16 points and 10 assists, while Kelly Olynyk finished with 14 points, three rebounds, and three assists. Keyonte George chipped in 11 points, three rebounds, and three assists. 

“Losing’s hard,” Hardy said. “Trying to build yourself into a really sustainable winning program is hard, and there are moments of pain. … This is one of those moments of pain. We’ve got to up our ability to learn. … We’ve got to up our awareness to what’s going on in the game.”

2.) Markkanen Dominates Fourth Quarter
With Utah trailing by six with 9:04 left in the fourth quarter, Markkanen checked back into the game. If the Jazz wanted any shot at breaking their two-game losing streak, Markkanen would need to play a significant role down the stretch. 

He did just that. 

Over the next six minutes, Markkanen scored 14 points on 5-of-5 from the field, 3-of-3 from deep and grabbed three rebounds. His three with 3:12 left tied the game at 117 — but it may not have been his biggest play. On the next possession, Markkanen drove to the hoop and, with the defense collapsing, kicked to a wide-open Sexton, who knocked down the three for the lead with 2:32 remaining. 

Markkanen's performance was special because he did most of the damage in the game's biggest moments. He scored five straight upon checking back in and then kept his foot on the pedal the rest of the way. 

3.) Sharing the Rock
In back-to-back losses against the Knicks and Nets, the Jazz got away from one of their core philosophies as a team: pass the ball. For a team that ranks 7th in the NBA at 28.2 assists per game, Utah dished out 23 assists in each game. 

That wasn't an issue on Thursday. 

Utah recorded 21 assists on 24-of-44 shooting in the first half. While that number dipped slightly in the second half, the Jazz still finished with 36 assists on 45-of-87 shooting from the field. 

Ten players had at least one assist, led by Clarkson's 10.

4.) Dunn Defense
In the first half, the Jazz had no answer for 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey. After being named to his first All-Star game just hours before, Maxey put on a show in the opening 24 minutes when he dropped 32 points on 6-of-6 from three. 

Coming out of the break, it was clear that the Jazz wouldn't let Maxey have the same freedom in the second half. That meant Kris Dunn, Utah's best perimeter defender, was the next man up. Dunn was sensational defensively, completely changing the game as the Jazz turned an eight-point deficit at the break to head into the fourth quarter tied at 93. 

Dunn matched up with Maxey for the first nine minutes of the quarter until he checked out. During that time, Maxey was 0-for-3 when defended by Dunn. The fact that he only took three shots shows how physical Dunn was with him, face-guarding him and never allowing him to settle into a rhythm. As soon as Dunn checked out, Maxey finished the quarter 2-of-3 from the field and 2-for-2 from the free throw line.

“Obviously, the beginning of the game, we gambled a lot on Tyrese Maxey and he got going,” Hardy said. “I thought the defense on him in the second half was much better. … Kris did have a very good second half defensively. … I give him a lot of credit for the way that he really cranked up the gas to start the second half from a defensive standpoint.”

5.) Markkanen All-Star Case
Despite being among the best players in the NBA this season, Lauri Markkanen will not be heading to Indianapolis for the All-Star game. Announced just hours before tipoff, Markannen was not chosen as a reserve for the Western Conference. 

Despite the Western Conference being the deepest it's been in a long time, Markkanen's omission is somewhat surprising. There are many deserving players in the west, but make no mistake, Markkanen is among those deserving. He's averaging 23.5 points and 8.7 rebounds with shooting splits of 49/40/88.

Markkanen is having one of the best three-point shooting seasons in history for a big man. He has made 128 three-pointers through 40 games this season. The only power forwards/centers to have more made threes through their first 40 games of a season is Davis Bertans (144 in 2019-20).

“I wish Lauri was named to the All-Star team. … But I also think that all the guys that were named to the All-Star team were deserving,” Hardy said. “He gives us the opportunity every night, no matter who we’re playing or how they’re guarding us, he’s going to give us an opportunity to create some advantages for our team because of his wide-ranging skill set. … He makes my job a lot easier.”

“There are nights where we all need to pinch ourselves and go, ‘What this guy does night in and night out is pretty amazing,’”